Hall of Famer quarterback Joe Namath is no stranger to controversy.
He famously guaranteed his New York Jets would win Super Bowl III despite being a heavy underdog to the Baltimore Colts.
A few years ago, he went on an embarrassing drunken ramble and confessed he wanted to “kiss” interviewer Suzy Kolber on live television.
Now he’s jumped in the foxhole with John McEnroe over the Serena Williams brouhaha.
McEnroe inadvertently kicked a hornet’s nest when he responded to a question and mentioned in passing that Serena Williams would be lowly-ranked on the men’s circuit.
While other celebrities have predictably virtue-signaled, Namath backed up McEnroe’s benign comments.
From Fox Business:
During an interview with NPR, McEnroe said even though Serena Williams is the best female tennis player in the world, he would rank her “like 700” among men.
NFL Hall of Famer Joe Namath joined the FOX Business Network’s Stuart Varney to weigh in. He said while he’s a “Serena fan,” he would not contend with McEnroe’s comments.
“I love watching her over the years but being a male and knowing the difference in speed and quickness, you know, strength, I’m not going to argue with John,” Namath said.
McEnroe hasn’t apologized, but he showed his sincere deference to Serena for the umpteenth time.
From the Daily Mirror:
“I would have preferred to have not gone to where I went given the choice in retrospect. It appears to take away from the respect that I do have for her. It wasn’t meant to be that way.”
Asked what he would like to say if she was reading the Mirror, he added: “People seem to be taken aback when you come up with a number. For me it is apples and oranges with the men and the women, they don’t discuss that in other sports I don’t see why tennis seems to be the one bandied about.
“People have gone back and forth with it, not just me. I would have preferred not to come up with a certain number but after all it was just an opinion.”
For whatever reason, tennis has always been the flashpoint for the “Battle of the Sexes.” Gender comparisons aren’t made in other sports, but “debate” continues to spark in tennis.
The New York Daily News made a similar argument:
We can talk about equality all we want, but the fact is that men and women are built differently. It’s not sexist to acknowledge this. You’re not a jerk for thinking most men are physically stronger than most women. Yes, there are exceptions, but generally speaking, men tend to be bigger, faster and stronger than women.
Yet, for some reason, of all the sports, tennis seems to be the only one where gender lines continue to be questioned. Serena Williams is the most dominant tennis player we’ve ever seen, but for whatever reason, it’s always been a thing to wonder how she would fare against men. This never happens in other sports. We never debate women’s bowlers taking on male bowlers. LPGA players are rarely if ever compared to their male counterparts. It’s just a tennis thing.
For whatever reason, male and female tennis players continue to get compared. But nobody believes Diana Taurasi could beat LeBron James in basketball (or anyone else in the NBA).
This needs to end. Comparing men’s and women’s sports belittles the accomplishments of female athletes. Let them be great on their own merit.